“She’s done. I just now got a text from Asher. All the band members and our wives are filing restraining and cease-and-desist orders against her. The papers will be at the house by Monday.”
“We can do that?”
I let out a huge sigh of relief. “I really hate this stuff.”
“I know, babe. I do too. I usually don’t let this shit get to me. I just miss you, and I flew off the handle. Saying things about you and our baby is off-limits. I’m not letting her fuck with my family.”
The baby kicks me again, like she knows what’s going on and she’s mad, too.
“Can I tell you something?” I ask him before he has to go.
“I just want you to know how much I love you, and I can’t wait to see you with our baby. You’re going to be an amazing dad…she’s going to love you just as much as I do.”
Although we haven’t talked about it since he shared the note with me, I know Britney’s words still haunt him, especially about him not deserving the baby.
He’s silent for a few moments before he answers. “I need to hear that sometimes. I love you both, and I’m not doing any more traveling until the bean is at least a year old. Or maybe even when she’s driving. I have to think about it.”
I laugh. “I would totally be okay with that. Maybe we should just name her Bean.”
“Nope. Her name is perfect, and it’s better than Bean. You’ll see.”
I lean against the doorframe and take a picture of Storm sitting on the floor of the nursery surrounded by pieces of wood, screws, and various hardware. The crib assembly directions are spread out in front of him, and he’s mumbling to himself. Halo walks across the room and plops down on the edge of the paper.
“I thought this would be way easier,” he says as he reaches up and ties his long hair back with a rubber band.
“Let me help you.”
“No. This is a dad thing. And you could burst at any minute.”
“I’m not due ’til next week.”
He stands and stretches. “We’re missing some screws. I have to run to the hardware store real quick.”
“Okay. I’m going to stay here and make us lunch while you’re gone.”
He pulls my huge body into his arms and kisses me tenderly, rubbing my lower back. I can’t wait to have this baby and get my body back. Storm’s been great, cuddling me all the time and always making me feel just as beautiful and sexy as he did before, but I’m beyond uncomfortable and achy.
After he leaves, I take Niko out into the yard to walk around for a few minutes. Then I start chopping up vegetables for a salad.
Not five minutes later, the doorbell rings. Wiping my hands on a towel, I waddle to the front foyer and open the door to find Asher standing there, his long hair hanging around his bearded face from under a black beanie. He’s wearing what I call his business grunge clothes—a black blazer over a white tee, faded jeans, and biker boots. Behind him, his red Porsche is parked in our driveway.
“Hey, beautiful. I stopped by to check on you guys.” He kisses each of my cheeks as he comes inside. Asher kinda spooked me the first time I met him. His intense stare and solemn aura and his resemblance to Storm freaked me out and made me uncomfortable. But now that I know him, I love him as if he were my own brother.
“Storm went to get more screws; he’s trying to put the crib together. He’ll be right back, though.”
“Trying,” he repeats with a chuckle as he follows me into the kitchen. He sits on a stool on the other side of the granite island I’m working at and grabs a peach out of the fruit basket.
I smile at him. “I’m a little nervous he needs more screws.”
“I would be too. Just be glad he’s not using super glue and duct tape.”
I laugh and, suddenly, liquid trickles down my thighs. Oh my God. Did I just pee? I look down at my feet—a small puddle of clear fluid is on the floor.
I stare at him and put the paring knife down. “I think my water just broke.”
His eyes light up. “Now?” He jumps up and comes around to look.
“It did,” he says. “Come on, I’ll drive you to the hospital.” He gently takes my arm, but I tug it out of his grip.
“No…I can’t go without Storm.”
“Evie, the hospital is over half an hour away. We can’t sit here and wait. I’ll call him on the way, and he can meet us there.”
I grab the counter as I start to panic. What if he doesn’t make it in time? I can’t do this without Storm—he’s my rock and this is the scariest event of my life. We went to all the classes together. I need him to help me breathe and push and scream.
Asher strokes my back as I melt down. “It’s okay, I promise. I’ll stay with you until he gets there. Ember had Kenzi in less than two hours. I wouldn’t wait around unless you want to risk having the baby here.”
“Two hours?” I had no idea a baby could come that quickly. That’s hardly any time at all.
He nods. “The baby came really fast.” I let him lead me out of the kitchen.
“Wait, let me just go change real quick. I have some clothes down the hall in the laundry room.”
I try to call Storm from the laundry room as I change into a new flowy dress, but he doesn’t answer. The reception goes in and out on the roads up here, so I’m not surprised. Taking a deep breath, I tell myself I have to calm down for the baby. I can’t sit here and cry and waste time.
“All set?” Asher asks when I come back down the hall.
“Wait…I need my hospital bag. I just remembered.”
“Where is it?”
I point to the foyer coat closet. “It’s in the closet.”
He retrieves my bag while I try to call Storm’s cell again, but it just rings and goes to voice mail.
“I can’t reach him,” I say, tears springing to my eyes.
Asher smiles calmly at me. “We’ll call him when we get to the bottom of the hill, and he can meet us at the hospital.”
I look at him skeptically. I want to wait here for Storm. That’s how I always envisioned it in my head—us driving to the hospital together, holding hands in the car.
“My brother will kill me if I don’t get you to the hospital, Evie.”
“Okay. I guess you’re right.”
Holding my hand, he walks me outside to his car and opens the passenger door for me. I’ve never seen such a small car in my life. I don’t know how it can be so expensive when it’s hardly a car at all.
“Ash…I can’t get in there.”
“It’s small but you’ll fit. Trust me.” He moves the passenger seat as far back as it will go, which isn’t far.
I lift my dress a few inches from my ankles, and he helps me into his sardine can on wheels.
“This is a nightmare. My ass is bigger than this entire car.”
He laughs as I slowly lower myself onto the seat. “See?” he says. “You fit.”
Barely. My stomach is almost touching the dashboard.
He closes the door and puts my suitcase in the trunk; then he jumps behind the wheel, spins the car in a tight circle in our driveway, and zooms down to the street.
I’m scared out of my mind. The baby bean is coming, and Storm isn’t with me. He’s going to be so heartbroken when he finds out I’m on my way to the hospital without him. My hand flies to my stomach when a sudden pain roils through me.
“You okay?” Asher asks, glancing at me. “Was that a contraction?”
Was it? Already? “I think so. I’m not really sure.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll get us there.”
“Were you there when Kenzi was born?” I ask. I need to keep talking to distract myself from having the mother of all panic attacks because I’m terrified that might make the baby come faster. Oh God, I can’t have my baby on the side of the road.
“I was there the entire time.”
“Was it awful?”
“No. It was beautiful, watching her come into the world.”
“Were you scared?”
He nods as he expertly navigates us through traffic and onto the highway. “I was petrified. We both were. But sometimes the scariest things are the most special things.”
“Do you think Storm will be scared?”
“Yeah. I do.” Asher squeezes my hand. “He won’t let you see it, though.”
I smile and blink back tears. “You’re right about that.”
“Try calling him now that we’re off that mountain.”
I dig my phone out of my purse and call Storm’s cell phone. Finally, he answers.
“Hey, babe. I just called the house to see if you wanted some ice cream.”
“My water broke! I’m on the way to the hospital with Asher right now.”
“Yes, we’re about halfway there. I wanted to wait for you but he said we shouldn’t wait. Just in case. I was worried-”
“No, you shouldn’t wait. Shit, I’m almost home, I’m gonna turn around and head to the hospital. Are you okay?” Urgency and worry lace his voice.